(By Samantha Biggers) Regardless of your personal opinions on how serious COVID-19 is, the economic and social consequences have affected you somehow. It is hard to say what exactly comes next, but I get the feeling that it is not going to be great. We are at least in for a bit of a roller coaster ride through 2021. Everyone talks about getting back to normal, but the truth is that things will never be quite the same. There have been far too many businesses and social relationships destroyed on top of lives lost.
Some believe that the numbers of COVID-19 deaths are highly inflated. We really do not know the true numbers. There has been so much bad information fed to the public throughout this crisis. What I do know is that it seems like a lot of people have either contracted it or know someone that has died.
On top of the pandemic, we are seeing high levels of civil unrest. I do not see that improving anytime soon. I think it is going to get a lot worse. This article concentrates on formulating a plan so that you and your family can get through this stage in history as best you can. I have approached it in sections. Everyone’s situation is different. There may be other aspects that you need to plan for, but I think this outline covers the big picture.
Your defense plan should be considered in layers. It may help to look at an aerial shot of your property or draw out a usable sketch.
Consider approach routes
Some properties may have more access points than others. People tend to use the easier approaches when possible. Add security features to the easy access points first and then proceed to adding security features to other possible approaches. You may consider security cameras, driveway alarms, motion sensor lights, gates, or security dogs. How many measures you use is up to you. The overall cost is a factor to consider. Going overboard with very obvious security measures can also draw attention.
Do your research before purchasing products.
There are more security alarms and various defense gadgets than ever before. It is easy to get a bunch of things that don’t perform well. Look for brands that have a lot of reviews and not just reviews on Amazon, either. Companies that back their products with a good guarantee and warranty are what you should look for.
Secure your doors
I like the Door Armor Concepts line of products. You can install their door armor quickly with just a screwdriver. Even if you rent, this is a solution that you can use, and they even have kits for mobile homes.
Consider what weapons you have or need to buy
Firearms are my #1 choice for personal home defense. A good shotgun is an excellent choice for home defense, especially if guns are new to you. It would help if you had some other options too. Large pepper spray canisters, baseball bats, and other non-lethal weapons are good to have.
Making enough money to meet your family’s needs may be harder or easier in the future, depending on your skillset and abilities. You may need to pick up some extra freelance work online or train for a new occupation. Job changes can be rough, especially if you have to take a lower-paying one or go from doing a job you enjoy to one that you don’t like that much.
Cutting back on expenses can help. You may find that despite a pay cut, you have more. How does that work?
Consider how much time and money you spend on commuting and car maintenance. Add in the restaurant or deli meals, daily coffee from a barista, etc. All that adds up fast. Dressing up for the office has costs too. When you are at home, you are not putting wear and tear on expensive attire.
Look for online opportunities.
Health and Medical
One of the best things you can do is get in better shape and do what you can to improve your health. In the United States, many health issues stem from lifestyle choices.
You do not need to strive to look like a fitness model.
- Start exercising. You can find many videos online that offer exercise options for people of all ages and abilities. Many are free!
- Refill prescription meds as soon as you are allowed. Ask your doctor for a prescription for an extra 90 day supply. Unless it is a controlled substance or psychiatric med, your request is likely to be honored.
- Attempt to eat healthier. Cooking from scratch and eating out less helps a lot. Reducing sodium and sugar intake might mean your doctor doesn’t need to prescribe as a high a dose of meds.
- Evaluate your medical kit and add supplies as needed.
- Check dental records and see when everyone in the family last had a cleaning. Get any cavities taken care of as quickly as possible.
Do not put off necessary surgeries and treatments. It may be harder to get them done later.
Pregnancy and Well Being of Children
Babies don’t stop coming into the world just because times get weird. At the moment, we are seeing the babies born that were conceived at the beginning of the pandemic. This temporary boom will taper off because as the pandemic kept going, many people decided not to expand their families.
At the same time, plenty of women are pregnant or will become pregnant over the next year. At 37 years old, I am currently pregnant with our first child. This happened after five years of trying to have a child. At this point, I fit the clinical definition of infertile and did not think it was possible. These things happen, and although I feel extremely lucky and happy to have this opportunity, it is challenging to go through a pregnancy during a pandemic. For more on that, check out my previous article.
I started purchasing baby supplies sooner than I would have under more normal circumstances. If you are currently pregnant, I encourage you to watch out for sales and buy necessary items as your budget allows. Some online retailers such as Amazon allow you to sit up a registry for free. One of the perks is that you can return any items that you don’t need within a year of purchase for a full refund. So if you overbuy on one size of clothing or diapers, you are not stuck with them.
For those that have kids already, it is good to consider their needs for the coming year. Buying clothing out of season can save money. A lot of box stores are in financial trouble, and there are some amazing deals out there. Medical needs and entertainment also need to be considered.
If you are of childbearing age but do not want to expand your family during a pandemic you should stock up on your favored method of birth control. It is very easy to get a prescription and keep a year’s worth on hand. Online doctors such as HeyDoctor are legitimate and can help you out if you do not want to visit a doctor in person.
Many parents are homeschooling either by choice or necessity. I wrote an article on home school resources that can help you find free or inexpensive online curriculum and worksheets.
Make a list of school supplies you need for the coming year. If you are using worksheets, you may want to stock up on printer ink/toner, paper, pencils, etc. Make sure to plan in some fun educational activities as well.
Pets and Livestock
Your pets are part of your family. Dog and cat food can be stored for six months or longer if care is taken. Vacuum sealing bags will extend shelf life. For those that have small dogs, freeze-dried pet foods are an option. Those of us with large dogs will not find freeze-dried pet food to be financially feasible.
If pets require specialized diets or you have exotic pets, you need to realize that it may be impossible or very difficult to find the precise brand or ration that you need. Be sure to stay ahead of this. Keep an extra two months on hand if at all possible. This allows for supply chain disruptions and shipping delays.
Some livestock does better during hard times or periods of supply disruption than others. If you have a lot of pasture and woodland and own grazers, you can likely keep at least some animals with little to no extra input. Your regional climate plays a large role in what you can and cannot do without supplementing food.
Chickens are good foragers if allowed to roam, but in order to lay well, they need extra feed. Geese are more of a grazer. In western North Carolina, we came to the conclusion that geese barely need any grain to survive and reproduce. In fact, they will turn it down in order to graze if given the choice.
People often ask me how much food I think they should have on hand. I think you should have six months at least and preferably a year. At the same time, it takes a while to get to that level, and you need space to store it. Do not feel bad because you cannot immediately stash back a huge cushion of food. Try for a month of extra food initially. That much extra means that you are more prepared than the vast majority of people.
If space is an issue, freeze-dried food is something to consider. While it is expensive, you can fit a lot of buckets in a hallway closet. Single people and couples in apartments should look at freeze-dried and dehydrated food options. You can save some money by purchasing dehydrated foods.
Here is an example of an inexpensive and shelf-stable 8 day emergency food supply for a single person. You can buy these items and stash them where you have space. These items will fit under most beds.
This kit contains a total of 8000 calories which is actually enough for an adult to comfortably eat for 4 days. Purchase two of these buckets and you will have enough food for 8 days. Each bucket currently costs $25.98 so for $52+tax you can eat for over a week. These kits are in stock and available.
I advise adding in some canned meat. You can buy 12 cans containing 5 oz each of chicken breast in water for around $21. So even if you consumed the entire 12 pack of chicken and all the food in the two buckets over 8 days, your total cost would be under $75 or just over $9 per day. Your total calorie consumption would be 2,168 calories per day. Some people may be able to make that much food last even longer.
Sure you might be able to get that many calories for less money if you buy beans and rice but those take a long time to cook. The food in the buckets just has to be boiled and simmered.
Some store-bought water is fine but don’t be the person that puts back pallets of bottled water. It is simply not realistic to put back enough bottled water to see you through an emergency of more than a few days. It is also not worth the safety and health risks of going to stores when people are agitated, scared, and supplies are limited.
I recommend purchasing a few good water filters and some water storage containers. Keep water in sealed storage containers for emergencies. I recommend a gravity-fed water filter such as the Lifestraw Family or HydroBlu Versa Flo with 10 L bag (filter and bag are sold separately).
You can also purchase water BOBs for your bathtub that allow you to store a lot of extra water and pump it out.
Figure out where you can get water if the tap at your house is not an option. NEVER BE TEMPTED TO DRINK UNFILTERED WATER! ALWAYS USE YOUR WATER FILTER! Even really clean water supplies can quickly become contaminated during difficult times.
Mental Health and Well Being
When things are stressful, even those that typically hold it together exceptionally well may suffer from mental health issues. It is important to take care of your mind so that your body can stay healthy too. If others rely on you, your mental state can have a much further-reaching impact than you might realize. Hiding emotions and troubles is hard on everyone.
People need something to do to relax and take their mind off things. Reading, drawing, writing, painting, and crafts are all inexpensive activities that can help.
Board games or watching a movie together are good options for families.
Gasoline prices have been very low throughout the pandemic. The biggest transportation problems so far have been reduced public transit services. Distracted and stressed drivers and roads blocked due to unrest have also been a problem in some areas.
There has been an uptick in traffic accidents despite reduced traffic loads in the area I live in. People are stressed, taking more substances, drinking more, etc. Add in the fact that delivery drivers and others in the shipping industry are working like mad to meet to demand, and you have a recipe for disaster. Some truckers are getting shot at around larger cities just for honking their horns to prevent an accident.
My point is that transportation may be reduced or dangerous. Try to plan alternative routes to get where you need to go. Avoid bottlenecks that can be easily blocked. The main entry points to cities are a perfect example. Take the back way when possible, and always plan for your trip to take longer. The more conditions deteriorate, the longer a trip may take. It is far better to take more time to get to and from somewhere than to rush it and run into danger.
Bug Out and Get Home Bags
If you don’t already have a bag, then you need to put one together. You don’t have to spend a lot to have the basics. You may have a lot of what you need already.
If you are starting down the path to preparedness, you need to understand that bug out bag is a term that is used loosely. It doesn’t mean that you have to pack a bag that allows you to survive two weeks in the woods. Very few people have the skills and ability to take to the woods and survive for more than a few weeks anyway.
Try to think of your bag as the supplies you need to get through a week or long enough to get to a safer location and situation. This will allow you to focus on what you really need and not be overwhelmed with all the fancy and cool gear out there.
A get home bag is similar to a bug out bag but really designed to allow you to survive until you can get to your home. Those that commute or travel a lot for work may want to keep more supplies in their vehicles than the person that rarely goes more than 10 or 20 miles from their house.
What are you doing to prepare for what is to come in 2021? What is your biggest concern? Please share in the comments below!
(You can find the original article by Samantha Biggers right here.)